Слике страница

be added Rev. Mr. James, who became the pastor of the church in Charlestown, in 1632, on its separation from that of Boston; Rev. Mr. Whiting, who was at Lynn, Richard Mather at Dorchester, after the removal of Warham and Maverick, and Jonathan Mitchell, who was early settled in Cambridge.

A fort was erected on Castle Island in 1634; and one had been thrown up on the hill in the south-east part of Boston in 1632. Militia companies were also early formed; and the officers were required to train and discipline them every week. There were then fears of an attack from the French in Acadie, as well as from the Indians, who complained that the English were encroaching on their lands.

When a tax was assessed in 1633, the proportion was as follows, viz: Boston, £16, Roxbury, £13, Charlestown and Watertown, £13 each, Dorchester, £15, Salem, Lynn, and Cambridge, each £8. And in the fall of the same year, Boston, Roxbury, Charlestown, Watertown, and Cambridge, were taxed alike; the other towns less. At this period, the clergy were consulted, for preparing a code of laws suitable to the condition of the colony, and the character of the people; and they were also requested to consider the propriety and importance of some regular discipline of church government. Laws were made to prevent extortion and oppression, especially, as to the price of labor and necessary articles of living. The governor discouraged all needless ceremonies and expenses; and set an example of economy and sobriety. For the first three years, the powers of government were almost wholly with the board of assistants, including, indeed, the governor and deputy. But this was with the general consent of the people, who also had the privilege and the power to elect these magistrates.

In 1635, when Mr. Haynes was chosen governor in the room of Mr. Winthrop, a change took place in the government, of having representatives from every town, to be a part of the legislative body, as before mentioned. This change was not, probably, made because Winthrop was not chosen governor, for he was still one of the board of assistants, or council, and he desired to be excused. The great increase of citizens, no doubt, was the principal reason for the alteration. The whole body of freemen had been accustomed to assemble, though it was only to elect the governor, deputy and assistants. The first year, indeed, the assistants chose the governor and deputy. There were, now, eight towns, besides some smaller settlements, as Agawam, Wessaguscus, Mistic, and Winnesimit. The whole population was probably not less than four thousand,

for in 1630 it was estimated at two thousand; and large additions were made in 1632 and 1633; and seven years from this period it was more than twenty thousand. It was now thought proper and expedient, for the freemen to meet in their respective towns, and choose three of their number to represent the people in a general court, or a legislative assembly, a part of which was the governor, deputy, and the assistants, also chosen by the freemen. Four general courts a year were holden a short time, for legislative business; and for a few years, the representatives and assistants formed only one assembly. Having gained this portion of power in the government, the representatives soon claimed a share in both the executive and judicial proceedings. But this was warmly opposed.

At this time, when the people and the deputies demanded a share of the legislative power, and even claimed judicial authority, they proceeded so far as to impose a fine on the assistants, for disregarding an order of the general court. Mr. Endicot was also reprimanded for indiscreet and rash conduct, in cutting the cross out of the king's colors, with the pretence that it was a relique of popish superstition. It was supposed he was urged to this imprudent act, by Roger Williams, who then resided in Salem. Mr. Endicot was further punished for this conduct, by being declared ineligible to any public office for a year. plaints were even made against Governor Winthrop; and he was questioned as to some public receipts and disbursements, while he was in office. But on inquiry, he was honorably acquitted; and not even a suspicion against his integrity remained.

Richard Bellingham, one of the original patentees of Massachusetts, and who arrived in the colony in 1634, was chosen deputy governor in May, 1635, when Mr. Haynes was elected the governor. Mr. Bellingham was educated a lawyer, and had a greater share in framing the laws of the colony, than any others, except Winthrop and Cotton. He was distinguished alike for good judgment and incorruptible integrity. He was generally one of the assistants, and at a later period, was several years chief magistrate of the colony.

When the settlements were made at Hartford and Windsor, on Connecticut River, in 1635, by the people from Cambridge and Dorchester, there were conflicting claims to that part of the country, by Massachusetts, Plymouth, and the Dutch, on Hudson River. The place had been visited, several years before, by some Plymouth people, who erected a house for trade with the Indians. The Dutch, soon after, took possession, a little lower on the river, claiming the place to be within their patent. Some disputes arose, in consequence of these

various claims; but no serious difficulties occurred with the Dutch at the time; and yet it was supposed, that they instigated the Indians, two years after, to make hostile attacks on the English, in that part of the country.

There was much public excitement through the colony, in 1634 and 1635, relating to the opinions and conduct of Roger Williams. His honesty was never justly doubted, but he was wanting in prudence and stability of character, and indulged in very extravagant theories. He made himself obnoxious to the government, by denying the validity of their title to the soil, on account of the royal grant; insisting that the Indians were the only proprietors; and by opposing the claims of the civil authority, to make any laws touching the observance of the sabbath, or other religious ordinances. In the assertion and publication of these sentiments, he was considered a disturber of the public peace; and when he could not be convinced of his errors, was ordered to depart from the colony. His opinions led him to refuse religious communion with most others, and even with members of his own family. And he condemned all who would not join him in anathematizing the church of England. With all these extravagances, he had a great portion of human kindness in his disposition, and was ever ready to make personal sacrifices for the welfare of others. Individuals of distinction, both in Massachusetts and Plymouth, showed him much kindness, even at the time of his banishment; and afterwards, till his death, he was esteemed for hist benevolence, honesty and piety. Mr. Williams was a scholar and a clergyman. He preached some time in Salem, after his arrival; then at Plymouth, for about two years; thence he returned to Salem, where he openly advanced his peculiar and obnoxious opinions; and in the winter of 1635-6, when ordered to leave Massachusetts, he went south, and took up his abode at a place which he called Providence.

The colony of Plymouth was, at this time, in a prosperous condition, though it was still small and feeble, compared to Massachusetts. Under the direction of wise and prudent characters, the debts, early contracted for their transportation and original settlement, were discharged; some vessels were built; and their trade increased; and several towns were settled in different parts of the colony.

When it was proposed, in 1634-5, by Mr. Hooker and the people of Cambridge, to remove to Connecticut River, a question arose, as to the power of the representatives, acting separately from the assistants. The consent of the general court was asked, for the removal, as it was believed the welfare of

Massachusetts might be affected by it; and it was said that all ought to remain together for the common defence and prosperity. The majority of the representatives were in favor of the removal; but a vote could not be obtained for it in the board of assistants. The representatives insisted, that the assistants should yield to them, as the larger body; and as the votes for removal, taking those of the deputies and assistants, were more than those against it. The assistants resisted this claim of power on the part of the representatives; but in 1635-6 the removal took place; and it was afterwards settled, that no order or law should be binding, or take effect, unless the majority, both of the deputies and assistants, approved of it.

Sir Henry Vane, who came into the colony in 1635, was elected governor the following year. He was under thirty years of age, but of accomplished manners, and very conciliating and popular in his deportment; and he was also a high professor of piety. His religion, however, was not such as to divest him of a love of power. He sought the favor of the people, particularly of those who made great pretensions to sanctity, and was put forward by them, as a rival and competitor to Governor Winthrop. In 1637, after some electioneering by the particular friends of these gentlemen, Winthrop was elected to the place of governor; and Vane soon after returned to England, where he acted a conspicuous part, in the time of the commonwealth; and afterwards suffered heroically, under Charles II. The qualities of Governor Winthrop, both of the head and the heart, were such as to secure the utmost confidence from all the intelligent and judicious characters in the colony.

The first serious danger to which the people and government of Massachusetts were exposed, from the Indians, was in 1637, when the cruelties and injuries committed by the Pequot tribe were so great, that war was formally undertaken against them; in which those of Plymouth and Connecticut united. This tribe resided between the Thames and Connecticut rivers, and at and near the present site of New London. They had attacked and slain several of the English, who were trading in their vicinity; but it is probable the persons slain had previously done some injury to the natives. The English demanded satisfaction without effect; and the conduct of the Pequots was so unjust and menacing, that it was believed the safety of the colonies required that they should be subdued. An attempt was first made, in 1636, to bring them to submission, and Endicot was sent with eighty men for that purpose. The Indians made evasive answers, and he returned without

effecting a negotiation. His force was too small to reduce them. The natives near Boston were few, and no indications had appeared of their hostility, to cause very anxious fears to the government. At a distance, they were more numerous. Besides the eastern tribes, there were the Pautucketts, on the higher parts of the Merrimac River; the Nipmucks, to the west and southwest; the Pocanoketts, at Mount Hope, and extending through the colony of Plymouth; the Narragansetts, the Nianticks, the Pequots, and the Mohegans, in the southwest parts of Rhode Island, and the adjoining territory of Connecticut. Of these, the most formidable and savage were the Narragansetts and Pequots. After it was determined to make an attack on this hostile tribe, and in their own country, the three colonies of Massachusetts, Plymouth, and Connecticut, agreed to furnish men for the war. The attack was made on the Pequots, by the Connecticut troops alone, before those from the other colonies arrived. Major Mason, who had been a soldier in the continental wars in Europe, and like Standish, of Plymouth, was considered an able military character, had the command of them. His attack was very bravely and skilfully conducted. He came on them by surprise, though they knew he was on his march against them. The sachems and chiefs made a desperate defence, for some hours; but the panic and confusion were so great, on account of the unexpected assault, when it took place, that they were completely routed with great slaughter. The remnant of the tribe was soon after pursued to a distance by the Massachusetts troops, which had come up, and wholly routed and dispersed. The Narragansetts, Nianticks, Mohegans and Nipmucks, (except that a dispute among themselves involved the colonies in a degree) were subsequently peaceable and submissive, till the attempts made by Philip, in 1675, to destroy all the English in the country.

During the year 1637, an unhappy dispute arose, as to the nature of faith and justification, which agitated the whole community. Some extravagant and dangerous opinions were advanced, tending to licentiousness, under pretence of glorifying the sovereign grace of God. The sentiments were justly opposed and reprobated, but the deluded people were treated with undue severity. Several persons were banished, or chose to leave the colony, rather than submit to the censures and restraints imposed on them. The settlement on Rhode Island was begun, at this time, under Coddington, Coggeshall, and others, who had been banished on a charge of erroneous and dangerous sentiments. A large minority of the freeholders were implicated in this alarming heresy; and the govern

« ПретходнаНастави »